Accepted Paper:

Right angles, vicious circles: state regulation of the urban informality in contemporary South Africa  


Daria Zelenova (School of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow)
Vladislav Kruchinsky (Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper investigates the phenomenon of “Temporary Relocation Areas” in Cape Town, the resident’s resistance towards forced removals and argues that even successful campaigns for housing are likely to collapse in the situation where ‘the city’ is being substituted with ‘the ghetto’.

Paper long abstract:

Temporary Relocation Areas (TRA's) were first established in Cape Town as an attempt to 'normalise' what state perceived as social 'emergencies' - pockets of squatting and perpetration of urban informality throughout the city. This process coincided with the development of a N2-Gateway mega-project, preparations for FIFA 2010 football World Cup and shaping of the neoliberal urban development strategy in Cape Town.

The initial plan was to maintain these areas as a surveilled and controlled spaces which would serve as a temporary 'layovers' for the residents forcibly removed there. It was anticipated that as municipal housing programme unfolds and new housing units become available for the TRA's residents, these zones would be gradually dismantled. However, the situation on the ground proved that this technocratic approach led to the situation where 'emergency', which existed only in state-maintained discourses employed to justify evictions and creation of the TRA's, materialised into an actual state-maintained disaster.

Besides, the districts where the state offers housing for the evictees can be classified as ghettos, which further complicates overcoming of the marginality for their inhabitants and essentially places them in a vicious circle of ongoing and deepening marginalisation.

Based on the methods of participant observation, interviews with the officials and in-depth interviews and focus-groups with the residents of TRA's and Southern Delft, the paper compares 'successful' and 'unrealised' direct-action based campaigns for the right to the city employing the case studies of Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers community and Delft South community.

Panel P026
Governing urban commons